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Collapsible Aircraft Fuel Tanks Are Revolutionising Drop Zones
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Both military and civilian aircraft can now fly longer and safer, thanks to major breakthroughs in fuel transportation.
From small, remote area planes and helicopters, to Boeing 727s, many aircraft are being fitted with collapsible fuel bladders for greater economy.
Collapsible aircraft fuel tanks have been around for a while, but were in the spotlight again, when a Queensland company introduced the world's toughest model at AAD.
This unique innovation offers a fuel tank that can be dropped without a parachute, from aircraft flying at 70 knots, at 50 feet.
The Drop Drum205 can accurately deliver 205 litres of Jet A, diesel or water, for military or humanitarian use.
With a parachute, the results are even more amazing. At 300 feet, and travelling at 130 knots, the collapsible fuel bladder can be on the ground in just 4 seconds.
Safer And More Cost Effective
With no crew training required, this method is faster, safer and more cost effective, and perfect for small drop zones and hostile conditions.
Produced in Currumbin, Queensland, this amazing kit is being used everywhere, from the Australian Outback, to the jungles of Papua New Guinea, Russia and Antarctica.
Five times as strong as metal ferry tanks, collapsible fuel bladders lighten the load, and can easily be rolled up out the way when empty, making room for extra passengers or cargo.
Turtles Can Fly
Turtle-Pac introduced the world's first droppable fuel drum (without parachute) at AAD in 2016. Since then this revolutionary product has attracted the interest of both military and commercial operators.
The smallest member of the family is the Turtle-Buddy, a flexible, 10.5 gallon auxiliary tank that fits easily on the seat, and is secured with webbing straps and the seat belt.
The Turtle-Buddy means more time in the air without fuel stops and, most importantly, a back-up safety feature in a fuel emergency.
Fuel Bladders Offer Greater Safety
The secret to the products' amazing durability is the tough double skin construction. The outer tank material is 1100 Dtex nylon weave core, coated with PVC. The inner tank skin varies, depending on if it is to be used for water, diesel or sewage.
Apart from the strength of the fabric itself, it's the construction that sets it apart from other manufacturers. The seams are sealed using both stitching and HF welding. Probably installed, collapsible fuel bladders can withstand up to 9 G-force.
There are other advantages to using the collapsible fuel bladder. They do not require ventilation, nor do they leak vapours, making them crash resistant and safer.
During quality control tests, Turtle-Pac collapsible aircraft fuel tanks are tested to 5 psi, whereas aluminium ferry tanks are only tested to 3.5 psi.
All in all, this adds up to a safer and more efficient product, designed specifically for the purpose.
The collapsible aircraft fuel tanks are designed to hold from 40 to 2000 litres of fuel. Light and safe, these long range tanks can be installed on practically all helicopters, starting with the Robinson R22.
Ongoing research and redesigning means we will see more of this type of product in the future, something that the military especially will be excited to see.
Queensland journalist Isobel Coleman takes a closer look at flexible holding tanks, for use at sea, in the air, in war zones, and in the family home.
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